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Cory Booker, Tina Kelley & Kevin Ryan Education. (2012) 'Almost Home Helping Kids Move From Homelessness to Hope.'

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  CSPAN    Book TV    Cory Booker, Tina Kelley & Kevin Ryan  Education.  (2012)  
   'Almost Home Helping Kids Move From Homelessness to Hope.'  

    January 22, 2013
    7:00 - 8:00am EST  

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important for librarians who actually make some changes in the way we purchase. we have an electronic resources librarian's that are just selecting materials. >> any ideas from other countries, how we can use other cultural institutions? i have one example myself. i had dinner recently with a nobel prize winner from istanbul who wrote the book called museum of innocents. and i've not been there but my wife went into the museum of innocents, the building in istanbul. which is full of all the things mentioned in the novel. lipstick, the handbag, certain
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kind of handbags. and people have been going into shops asking to buy the particular handbag, which was mentioned in the book. they saw it in the museum but they be seen as entirely made up of things from their imaginati imagination. these people and these objects never existed. so you go in the museum, you look at the lipstick from the heroin or the handbags she bought or whatever, it's all in the museum. it's completely. there's no such thing. it's all out of someone's head. so we, they go in there and then they turn on to reading his novel. do you get the idea? the museum, the museum as an artifact of a fictional book. the fictional book assumes a real physical life in the museum. >> that's a creativity that -- as libraries we're definitely --
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>> [inaudible] >> wouldn't it be wonderful if one of those creation stations in a library that people could create what they saw, in their minds, and the book. the greatest criticism when you see a movie that was made from a book is that's not what i thought it was like. everybody says that, or a should of been like that. so the creation station -- >> librarians have to loosen up a little. >> there are analogies, for sure. in fact, i don't think any book has been published with someone and the private sector saying you put my candy bar in this book, and we will pay you, the publisher. they do that in movies. that's a different field. but there is lots -- [inaudible] controversial. it's really kind of a prank for
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maybe we will get there. >> but there are lots of come on, there are lots of corporations that go on. in this room, bar tron is here with the carnegie foundation. in the age of the carnegie and the american library association, helping publishers are putting out and muslim world bookshelf in which there will be 30 books on muslim cultural issues, over a hundred libraries in the country. as a nonprofit kind of cooperative effort, with the government and with institutions of governance, which libraries are, throughout the country. so there is a lot of cooperative effort that those take place. in the are a lot of digitals that come to mind. my favorite example is, comes from czarnecki see who wrote
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reading alito in tehran. she says when she speaks to her students she would say in tehran, you name an american president in the 19th century. and very few could, but one or two might sick wasn't lincoln in the 19th century? and then she says, can you name an american literary figure. all hands raise, and they say mark twain. and so who has the bigger impact in the world? is it a literary figure or is it a political figure? very interesting. we think politics as a society often, when really literature is the power driving figured. >> [inaudible] is advertising. i have always resisted putting advertising in the random house books. whether it be for real pharmaceutical, and yet when you
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take something like ian fleming novels, james bond, we all know what champagne he drinks are what car to drive. the aston martin, of course you know. the aston martin. that's a famous british racing car. that's in the book, but if i -- if i offered aston martin advertisement when i published james bond, ian fleming is to work on my newspaper. what's wrong with it? spent i don't think when the agents round advertising from -- it was mass-market paperbacks, and you can find them in bookstores that still have merit cigarettes in the back, and there was impact, which defended
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many writers. there is a no add cause. that exists throughout. what that is turned into is, there is corporate sponsorship of book launches. you will find corporate partners. when i was an agent i worked with hold on to launch one book through an ad traded done with "the new yorker," because you take any opportunity, you can, i mean the media really works with partners in fashion, particularly in the liquor. because they're always looking for an upmarket audience, and the reader of books is that, allegedly, of market audience. so you'll find that that type of support there, but i think, i don't think the numbers are really satisfying to advertising companies an.
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>> it is not pure, the reason i say this is, random house will advertise in your books. what you advertise our other books. often by the same author but sometimes beyond. and so you do advertising. >> i think the book festival and other places. any other ideas? any other cultural institution we can recruit, advertising, museums, libraries. what else? >> the small business administration would be a delightful federal partner for independent booksellers who are struggling to stay alive. i'm on the other side of where our administration went for the department of justice case. i feel like the department of justice case on price-fixing against six publishers fixing the e-book prices, which
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essentially form were i said aided intellectual property against technology, and given that we're on the preferences of that funny divide where the tech sector is usually intellectual property in a way that doesn't compensate the people who make it. there are many other conversations to have about this at a later date. we are watching a lot of transition here. there are opportunities for all kinds of governmental and nongovernmental partnerships to come and, you had asked about other countries. france, and most of european union support netbook agreements. britain let go a long time ago and heard the publishing industry. prices set and firm. every bookstore maintains the same price. it allows -- >> are you part of the? >> not at all. i to think it hurts independent booksellers and business throughout your. i think it cuts publishers throughout europe and is
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provided riders -- >> one of the things that is maddening at the moment, and it partly brings out the web goes is a we should just -- everything should be free. >> this is the divide we're looking at right now. >> microsoft and people wanted to get rid of copyright. how can you have books without -- they can't live on -- some of >> [inaudible] >> partially why we are here. to support those very writers. >> the national endowment and humanities, are united on this attitude to provide finance for publishing of books by copyright, or for having your own -- >> we certainly have an insight for the people that produce literature, people that produce history.
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but we are not in the business of making law. we also have an instinct for wanting to have access. so there's a distinction between, for example, supporting the concept of copyrights and whether they should last 85 years or longer. and what kind of access to digital capacities exist for books that are not being sold. these are really serious questions. because suddenly we have locked up in every library in america books that are not being sold that a lot of people would like to have access to, if it was free. and that's for digitization basically provides. and so to some degree people are
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going to have to come to grips with it. there's a secondary issue, by the way, in terms of the visual arts, where artists, families for extended periods of times have copyright in effect, powe powers, over great works of art. and how long that should last is a really powerful question. i will tell you as someone who came from a legislative background, that fairly narrow commercial interests really dictated a process during a particular period of time. i doubt if exactly the same decisions on extending copyrights through the ages would pass in today's environment. now, whether it would be pared back, that's a matter for legislators and a lawmaking process to look at. but clearly, the copyright itself should be maintained, whether it should be maintained exactly in this framework is an
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open question. >> access i think speak where do you stand on this? [talking over each other] >> it would help. materials that have been locked up or orphan works or things that libraries all over the world own, and their use in free use, that so we're very hopeful that the digital public library of america will help with the digitization of materials, and also the projects that are going on. so you can unleash these things. yes, we would love to see -- think about it, millions and millions and millions of books. also think about all the digitization it's going to take right now. you can't.
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>> i just hope google allows -- >> it still in process now. i mean, the authors will be here on tuesday probably discussing these things, i think is still in, they are still fighting google. there's an appeal. >> the next panel is on copyright, isn't it? [talking over each other] spent i guess i would say from the library side, back to accessing, as these things are being challenged and fought, still think about that person, that seven year old that wants a window into the world. >> [inaudible] >> i want to thank is very distinguished panel for their contributions. thank you. >> thank you. [applause] >> this program is part of the
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2012 international summit of the book. for more information visit loc.gov/international -- book -- summit. >> and now on booktv, tina kelley and kevin ryan, president of covenant house, describe the experiences of homeless teens in north america and the efforts by covenant house to help them. newark mayor cory booker, wrote the forward to the book, participate in the discussion, and it's about 45 minutes. [applause] >> thanks so much for being he here. please toggle bit about why you decide to be a part of the process. >> first of all i've known kevin for a long time, and he's one of america's humble heroes and has been for my entire, our entire journey together.
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covenant house fits right into newark, new jersey. it has a location right in newark, new jersey, with a hard and the spirit and soul that does so much for our city. i've met the kids, young people come through it and i was very moved. so knowing you and knowing about covenant house, it was a no-brainer. but i felt very privileged to write the forward for it because it gave me a chance to recognize the fact that my dad, but for the kindness of others, would have been homeless himself. he was born to a single mother, the report. my father that exaggerates even more dramatically so he was not poor, he was just trying to. he couldn't afford the other two letters. it was the community that was very impact and very watchful of the children. and my father base with was taken in by another family, the pilgrims, who gave extraordinary love, capital fund on a trajectory forward.
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so what is going to go to college, people put dollar bills together so college became a reality for him. all these things which i call the conspiracy of love that have happened that made me join him today, but really starts with young people. what bothers me is, but our society, is we talk so dramatically and in such a negative fashion about the adults who fill our prisons. we don't realize every one of those adults was a child who we could have done more for, to prevent a lot of the challenges that face is adults. i think it was frederick douglass who said it's easier to raise to our strong sure than to heal broken. and so i just feel a real urgency in america that we do not prioritize how our children as much as we should. >> tenet has been saying during
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the book tour that her favorite part is your forward, which is lovely because we worked for to a half years on the block. [laughter] but it's so moving from the heart and this week you're doing something else from the heart. you are engaged in a snap challenge. can you explain why you're doing this? >> so my staff teases me. i was up late with my girlfriend, twitter -- [laughter] when is our mayor going to get a life? but it was a night it was going to bed and osha's going back and forth. for those of you who use social media, people to throw just things that are done, frankly. but just as us getting into an intellectual question about the role of government and e person said that government should not provide for the nutrition of children. and it really struck a chord with me because i really don't think people think about what that would mean, and we don't
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realize that we live in a society if we make a small amount of investment early we won't have to make a big investments lead. and that we all in fact are deeply invested in kids because the most successful our children are, the more our economy grows. arches, teachers, professors and entrepreneurs can you name it, all the children. the greatest natural resource we have in america is our children. again, under cultivated. long story short, late at night this woman said this and i go back at her and she goes back to me and i said finally, why don't we see what it's like to live on food stamps or the snap program. and so i went to bed thinking no big deal. i woke up and it was a big story. [laughter] and so i called my staff and i said, guess what i am doing? but it was a powerful thing, because newark is one of 14 cities in america that has a
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food policy director and i really think ought -- all city should have. we have done a lot of work on trying to expand affordable healthy options. the more i talked to my food policy director, this is a great thing. we cannot but raise the level of compassion and understanding and this bill bad stereotypes about snap and families that are on snap, and focus them instead on the realities of that but also about the policy changes we could be making at a local level to empower, to direct food insecure, to direct food, to expend more healthy option. so that's really what we're doing this we. today i had a very poignant moment where but also to think as our society as a whole. i had a poignant moment today where i had a security guard in my office, and we were talking with them because these are guys, some of them may be $7 change an hour, and many of them
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working overtime to try to make more money but still wallow fire for programs like snap. and so here we are allowing many of our employees, especially as i was saying behind the curtain, i think the curtain there is to block the love of section. it's like 7-11, the the line across certain magazines. so you guys should put your books on the sex i'll spend we would sell the much better spent we should have called of the book 50 shades of homelessness spent it would have sold a lot better. sorry. you guys have such a dirty mind. get back to the subject here at hand. get out of the gutter. but the poignant testimonies you were telling us because we live in a society. we hear our frontline first responders, stories about intervening. we had one of the buildings that was targeted by some people that
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terrorist intent and there on the frontlines of this. and yet we can only pay them $7 change an hour, and they have no benefits. they have no retirement security. one guy was telling me he worked for 10 years with no health ca care. if you get sick yes to come and work through the thickest. that's not the america i think of. and so i'm really hoping this week, this is an overly long answer, to really bring more attention to this problem. and right now this session, congress is going to be debating in the snap program. and in a time of austerity, we can't be dumb and got things that ultimately provide long-term benefits that are really not -- entitlements that are investing in us come in our society and we should begin to prioritize these things federally as well as our actions locally. >> mayor, you were speaking in your forward about small actions that people took to help your father. talking about quite a bit about small actions people take they
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can help homeless young people. can you talk a little bit about how that works for the city? >> first of all, i've had lots of conversations of people who quote unquote have made it during very tough times. famous people like tyler perry to was homeless, living in a c car, do people i know throughout my community who have gotten, broken drug addiction, who have dealt with brutal brutal hatred because they came out of the closet at a young age. all these stories. and it's amazing to me that everybody, including tyler perry, have these stories about how one person small act of kindness was a difference maker for them. and it gives me chills to think about that we all have that power, that the biggest thing we do throughout india could probably be a small act of kindness to someone else. and so the vulnerabilities the fragility of life, you really see up close and personal in cities like ours here in new
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york and i cowers in newark, new jersey, and how it doesn't take that much effort to be there for again. and i see, i was very happy during sandy. we are able to do things to raise through covenant house and the cooperation of extorting people that went into raised a lot of money, because it actually doesn't take that much money to give a person or doorway of hope. and the last thing i will say on this is, you know, for me i get very upset because when i first became mayor i had a metaphor that i clung to. i used to tell people such an optimistic hopeful person companies to tell people i'm a prisoner of hope. when we walked into city hall seven years ago there were so many challenges and i would try to gird my team up and say we are prisoners of hope. we do nothing but hope. now seven years later my metaphor seems to have changed because i see powerfully transforming things -- happening from the largest parks expansion in century from a down housing
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market, to double the production of affordable housing, first time in 60 years the populace is going down, it's going up. hotels in downtown and 40 years. so my metaphor has changed and i tell people i'm no longer a prisoner of hope. i am unhinged because i now believe in my heart of hearts that there is a problem, poverty, child homelessness, there's no problem we can't solve it is not a matter of can we, it's a matter of do we have the collective will. i'll give one example. with kids, that drives me a lot is we have tens of thousands of children, thousand in this metropolitan area, on waiting lists for big brothers and big sisters. and that the data on mentoring is amazing. big brothers big sisters, the david drysdale juvenile crime, drives down early sexual behavior, drives up academic achievement. it's incredible what four hours
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a month, the amount of time we spend watching our favorite tv shows, i know in new york you guys watch real housewives of new jersey and jersey leashes, jersey shore. i know you guys do that. one tv show and then of the month, four hours. if we spend that time mentoring, imagine what we could do. why are the kids on waiting lists? thank god my father was on a waiting list. so we have the power. alice walker says the most, what people give up their power is not recognizing a habit in the first place. we all have the power to make transformative change in kids lives, transformative outcomes but also we choose not to overdo engage we don't make ourselves aware programs, organizations that do that everyday spent the book includes stories about people who stepped up. a cook in new orleans post-katrina new orleans decided she's going to be a mother to a whole group of homeless kids who
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don't have months to a business executive in newark the sentiment a young person and want to honestly. filled with adult stepping up to be big and small things but also filled with adults who hurt kids and prioritize drugs or the careers, or some selfish interests over young people. why do you think some people step up to make a difference in the lives of kids? a lot of kids, the world wants to ignore these kids. and other people find a different path. why is that? >> so i don't know. i don't. i don't. it actually feels so good. it feels so good to do the right thing. you know, as much as people talk about the negative and it is there, it's under these tough conditions you see the most beautiful exhibitions of humanity on a daily basis. i see people, during sandy, i was blown away by the
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extraordinary kindness people were extending to their neighbors. one of my favorite ones i thought was funny, i was in a tough neighborhood on loading water, handing it out, and this woman, disabled in an electric wheelchair rose up and says i need to cases of water. man, i can't give you two cases of water. she said i needed. my neighborhood needs water. i said let the understand something. you are going to be delivering water in your neighborhood. she said yes, we checked it out. she should've been the one where delivering water to and she was out delivering water talk twentysomethings who couldn't get off the bushes and get out and engage. that's the degree of human experience and especially humanity. so i don't know what it is, but i do know it's infectious. i do know when somebody does something like that, it inspires other people. why does one picture of a copycatting shoes on the street the, viral photo wax why?
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because we all hunger for the. we pray for it and we are inspired by. why do we see an uptick during christmas time and the holidays? it's an infectious spirit i shouldn't just be one month of the year. so what we ought to know is if all of us are involved, every single day we instruct others around us, all of us carry this toxin that is kindness in us, and we shouldn't keep it for ourselves. i'll give you one last example. to me, somebody just vanished my citizen. it was a snowy day in newark. a twentysomething just starting in newark slogging around on a slushy day and our member coming to this pool of slash that was deep, probably like shin deep. i was looking at it and then i see an older african-american woman pushing one of those cards, you know, you know what i'm talking about. the metal mesh type cart. i took a deep breath, i'm going
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to go help this woman. get through this slush, ocean. then this guy jumped out -- white conservatives guy, probably would've had at the time, just go and walked into the slush and issues that were probably my allowance, slush is through, texas woman's cart up, printed to the second smiles, she smiles at him and adjusted their witness to the. my whole day was change. it lifted me. it made me kind. it made me more open, more accepting, more loving. so you just never know what one small act can do to make that kind of change. and that's what the world needs so desperately because we are stuck. you see this. there's no shortage of kids. i want to put covenant house out of this is basically because there's no shortage of kids right now and that shouldn't be the case. >> we talked about the need for political will to help young
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people. they don't vote. they are not part of a powerful political lobby, and how can we get that message out across other political seers? >> you get elected officials you deserve, and i know this. i'm a politician. they respond to pressure and respond. so we always push the attention to washington or to trenton, albany, or city hall, but we can organize. we have the power to exercise pressure, demands, influence on our elected officials. ..
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>> when kids stand up in certain neighborhoods and kids stand up in more affluent neighborhoods s and they say those words, "liberty and justice for all," that phrase should be a command, should be a compelling aspiration. and there should be a conscious conviction amongst us to make that real. but right now we are lacking that sense of urgency. and we can't sit around and wait for elected leaders to do it, because when i think about great movements in america, i don't really think that they were led by elected officials. elected officials were often responding to the pressure or responding to the leadership on the ground. and that's really what we should be doing. when we're thinking about voting, conversations, debates, how can we have an entire presidential debate, and it seems that the word "poverty" was almost something we shouldn't talk about and we shouldn't address? and so i'm really hoping we can begin to change the dialogue, because i, you know, i'm a guy
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that actually liked to do a balance sheet analysis of our country. the manhattan institute is working with us in newark because to me it just comes down o -- to a simple balance sheet analysis. suspect n.a.p., for example, it creates about $1.7 o 0 of job creation, of gdp growth. the same thing with programs for kids. you can show direct investments in programs for young people, it produces actually a real economic result in the end. so if we just do a balance sheet analysis of things, we'll change. i was campaigning or for president obama in seattle and was with a amazing supportive housing organization there that showed they had 23 the homeless people that they looked at their medical expenses, um, for the year before they came into their supportive housing and the year
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after. 23 people, today saved their local hospital a million dollars in medical expenses, buzz away -- because we all know it's far or more expensive to leave somebody especially if they have a mental health issue, it's far more expensive to lee -- to leave them on the street. i went to visit some of the residents. i met one man who now was with teaching people about cooking and making contributions. so we have a backwards way of thinking about this. this is why i think our criminal justice system in america is the most -- if you're a republican, that should be your biggest cause to go after, because it's big, wasteful government that doesn't need to be that way if we were empowering people to succeed on the front end. >> mayor, we're going to make you late, so i'm going to offer one thought before you check out and give you the last worthed, and that is -- >> intimidating. [laughter] >> yeah. um, when we first met, um, i
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remember saying to you that i liked your tie, and you took that tie off and gave it to me. and i think that you offer that to the country. you offer us your light, and so many of us, 1.2 million people on twitter, but lots of folks we can tell you all across the country on the book tour ask us about you, the light you draw us to, hope, optimism, and knowing that the future for this country is bright if we're in it together. i was stumped in anchorage when a woman asked me is he really as sexy as he seems? [laughter] >> i'm what you call a 0-footer -- 40-footer. i look much better from far away. >> but i want to thank you for the light that you shared with us in the book, and the light that you bring to the people of newark, but the light that you bring to the nation. i think our country's future bright in part because i think you're going to be a big part of it. >> well, i appreciate you saying that, but i will correct you. look, i said this to my be staff
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today, i get a lot of psychic energy from being the mayor of the city, but yet i'm there, there's managers who get the job done every single day whose names you never hear about. i'm very proud to have been able to give a modicum of support to the incredible work you're doing. but you know there are heroes of light and energy that are working within covenant house in newark that are making transformative changes. there is a young kid one day that's going to be born to one of the children there that you'll never know their name who's going to know love. if you look into the stars tonight, and you live in manhattan, so you probably won't be able to see a star -- [laughter] but just think to yourself that that's hundreds of billions of light years away and many of of those stars that you're actually looking at are gone. they no longer exist n. the billions of years it's taken for that light to get to you, the star is gone.
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but the energy and light a body gives off while it's alive goes on forever. people be, generations yet unborn feel the warmth and light of that body. that's who we are. we may have a finite time on this earth, but every single day we should be determined to burn as bright, warm and brilliant as possible, and that's the challenge. and ultimately, the change makers are never the elected officials, the names you read in history. this country has been fueled because of a conspiracy of love. and even though we don't know the names of those people, they're the ones today we benefit. the last thing i'll say is my father, who i talk about in the book, had a lot of colorful things he would say about me as a kid. my father grew up in poverty, and he also used to say, boy, don't walk around here like you hit a triple. you were born on third base because i was born poor. [laughter] couldn't even get a ticket to the stadium. and, but he would say there's a
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beautiful thing that aye sort of -- i've sort of taken from him that we all drink deeply from wells of freedom and liberty and opportunity that we did not dig. and knowing that it gives us all an obligation to give back in every way possible, and to me it's the secret of live ago life of joy, a life of solace and a life of love. so thank you. [applause] >> want to thank the mayor for being with us, and we want to take for a couple of minutes any questions that you may have before we open o it up. yes. >> one of my concerns is the runaway tuition, and if you're homeless or if you're poor or if you're middle class or upperrer middle class, how can you afford to go to med school and pay 70 grand? for instance, when i was in
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college and law school, it was $b 25,000. i work for the government -- [inaudible] my after-tax dollars. so it just seems to me that the government should be doing something to keep tuitions in check. not necessarily turn into a european system, but who are these magical doctors who are going to descend upon america and provide health care to everyone when it's 70 grand a year for one year of tuition, and you may have undergrad loans, and you're going to be taking out conceivably 300 grand for medical school? >> right. for c-span, do we need to repeat question, or are we okay? repeat the question? so the question is, um, how are we going to help young people make it through, um, you know, their educational goals, college or graduate school, in light of runaway tuition. >> yes. >> is that right? okay. do you want -- >> and also -- [inaudible] >> right. >> i mean, how are we going to
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get the doctors if tuition is 70 grand a year? >> we write in the booking about how -- in the book about how hard it is for homeless kids in the cities in which they live today just get through high school. the challenge that so many kids confront, and liz murray wrote, you know, a beautiful memoir, "breaking night," about her journey from homelessness to harvard, how are we going to create opportunities for kids whose families won't or can't take care of them who have been told over and over again you're broken because they're poor or their parents hate them or reject them because they're gay or lesbian. these kids feel so damaged that college feels like another planet to them. and we write in the book about the game changing things that cities and nonprofits are doing to create high schools that are connected to homeless youth centers. there's a great program here in the city that's part of or connected to the door which is a drop-in center for disconnected
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youth. it's in its 41st year, it's an amazing program. and it's called brim academy. and that school was started with this notion that there are young people who are feeling really marginalized and disenfranchised. can you get those kids to come into school if they're homeless or struggling? we at covenant house in detroit run three high schools, and they're only for kids who are homeless or kids who have been expelled or suspended from the detroit public school system. so the covenant house and brim academy, they're not siphoning people away from the public school system. these are schools for kids who are rejected from the mainstream public school system and need to find a way back in. there isn't a lot of -- there aren't a lot of those programs in the united states, we november of just a handful that are part of a homeless are youth program, and we think that more of that would create real opportunity for kids. because you probably know this, if you look at the labor statistics, kids with a high school diploma, right, are much
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more likely to find employment, but they're much more likely to find work than young people who don't have a high school diploma. so it involves creating high schools that work with homeless young people. and last thought on this and then open to your wisdom on this, young people who are homeless in this city are offering us a master class in invisibility, riding the subway all night long, hanging out in doughnut shops. this is true in anchorage and in new orleans. and we have to first acknowledge that there are, in fact, millions of homeless young people in the united states who are or going out of their way not to be seen and picked off. and understand if we want to help those kids achieve the great promise of their future, we've got to recognize that they exist, and then we have to be love and opportunity in the world for them, because they don't have anybody else. >> okay, that's it. [laughter] other questions? >> my question is we talked about the government.
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what about private industry and their support of programs like this? and i know that when i used to work for citigroup -- i'm retired now -- we had a program where we would have mentoring between our executives and kids in high school or junior high school that would help. are you aware, is that in the book or whatever? >> i'll start this and then tina, who did an enormous amount of reporting on this both for the times and our book, "almost home," can talk as well. the question is what role does private industry play in helping young people who are homeless get ahead. great example in st. louis the panera franchise works with the covenant house in st. louis to create an apprenticeship as part of panera cares to give homeless young people an opportunity to come into a training center that's intentionally developed to give them the skills in management, in retail, in the operations of that business and then launches those young people
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into management positions. i'm not talking about minimum wage, behind-the-counter work. i'm talking about a lad orer of economic opportunity. -- a ladder of economic opportunity. the smartest ceos are hiring homeless young people. today might not have the resumÉ of young people coming from the and brightest high schools and colleges in the country, but they are so hungry. they're so out to achieve. and so giving kids that first break, you know, that first job, you know, rite-aid here in the city gives them an opportunity to work and safe up for their first apartment and go to school at night. there's lots of companies who do this, but there aren't enough. there's a real role here, and i think the smartest ceos get that. >> i wanted to add, too, that as well as the mentoring efforts that you mentioned, for young people who have been through horrible circumstances, sometimes all it takes is one
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one person who believes in them that will take them from being dejected and not believing in themselves to flourishing and becoming successful young adults. so we've seen over and over again when the the executives and employees who come into our shelters and pair up one-on-one with young people to work with them just having someone that cares and believes in their future can be the real game changer. >> with yeah. >> hi. >> hi. >> how do you -- [inaudible] your employees to keep them from burning out when they handle some of the hardest human questions? >> that is a beautiful question. the question is, how do you keep people energized, and how do you keep morale up when they're working with young people who are so pressed by so much darkness? you know, the biggest homeless youth center in the united states of america is just a drive down the road, it's 43st and 10th -- 41st and 10th before the lincoln tunnel.
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250 homeless teens are sleeping there tonight. they're taking care of young people who don't have any other opportunity, any other safe place to be. and the trafficking and the exploitation and the violence that so many of these kids have experienced really eats away at the soul of people who are working every day with young people. and it was true for me. twenty years ago when i started at covenant house i had a lot more hair, i was a lot thinner, i forgot who i was. my mother told me from the day that i could hear that i could sing. i cannot sing. but my mother had me convinced that i could sing. my father had me convinced that i was going to be a really great math and science student. i am not. but they filled me with a sense of promise, and they encouraged me to believe in myself. so many of the kids who come into covenant house don't have that, right in and you quinn to think -- you begin to think that the darkness is so large and hovers so resonantly that the light is untouchable.
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but the great virtue of covenant house being 40 years old and me having been a part of it for 20 years is i now know doctors and teachers and great parents who were once upon a time homeless kids. but someone inside or outside covenant house loved them. so we have to just take care of ourselves and remind ourselves that the light -- and i'm not being sentimental, i really believe this -- the light is so much stronger than the darkness. we just even have to -- we just each have to get in this together to help change the life of a kid. there are people many this city who once a week go down to that shelter and bake a birthday cake to kids who have never, ever had happy birthday sung to them before. kids who then take that down because they've never seen happy birthday my name on a wall before. that small thing, i'll take a birthday cake, and i'll sing happy birthday to a kid, that changes that kid's life forever.
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why did that lady come into this shelter and sing happy birthday to me? maybe i'm not broken. maybe there's something about me that's good. if all of us did that, the light we would shine in the world would be hotter than the sun, and i think that's part of this movement of love. game changing for kids means all of us getting into this together. yeah. >> [inaudible] are you talking about the government also making investments like mayor booker was talking about? i have a follow-up. >> so the question is, are we talking just about volunteerism, or are we also talking about the government playing a role n. our book we write about things we know the government has to do in order to make a difference in the lives of young people, and we talk about the things that individuals have done and can do to make a difference in kids' lives. if or my purposes -- for my purposes, if there was one fight i'd like to win and win soon, i'd like to stop investing billions of dollars in the public child welfare system and
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have 28,000 kids graduate from foster care every year without a family. they throw their stuff in a black hefty bag, and then they end up desperate and without any sort of tribe or kin or family to help support them. if we could fix that in our foster care system which is so within the circle of the public sector, if we could be pix that, it would dramatically impact what homelessness looks like in this country. >> and i think it's important to focus on ways we do know how to fix that system. were ways of get -- we have ways of getting kid who are older and many foster care adopted out, we have ways of getting kids into permanent families. we talk about extreme family finding program in st. louis where they have retired detectives trying to find, um, kin from not just mothers and grandmothers and aunts, they'll find second cowz sips and great aunts and call us and say would you be interested in giving a home to your relative, and 7 o
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0% of the time with that program they're able to find permanent homes for the young people compared to 40% under just regular procedures. so there are ways to reduce the stream of kids into foster care. there's ways to prevent them even entering in the first place by providing them with the services that their families need. and if we can reduce the stream of kids into foster care, then we'll reduce the stream of kids into our homeless shelters. because 40% of the kids who graduate out of foster care without a place to go end up homeless within the first four years of their time as young adults. >> there is just one last -- there is a big public/private collaboration on the narrative in this country that we have to work hard on, and that is this idea that it's still okay to buy and sell kids for the purposes of sex. if we could, if we could just get half as brave and bold about making it taboo to drive across a bridge or through a tunnel and come into the city and buy a kid for a night, if we could be half as successful as making that
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taboo as we have making smoking, we would really change people's perceptions on what's appropriate in terms of intimacy. there are kids in this city and in every major city in the united states who are being bought and sold. yes, on the internet, but also by comper pitches and gangs and car pells -- corner pimps. we have a long way to go in this country about acknowledging that young people continue to be exploited and that some boys in this country continue to think it's okay, you know, to go into the city for the a night and get a hooker. a lot of times that hooker happens to be a homeless kid whose family couldn't or wouldn't take care of her. that's true tonight in this city as well. >> what what does your program specifically do to help kids who are victims of the sex trade? >> so the question is, what does covenant house do for kids who are a victim of the sex trade. there's both what we do individually with young people and then the public policy
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questions that we're working to tackle. so first the latter. we work with other ngo leaders across the country either as participants in or leading state-based coalitions improving legislation that protects survivors of trafficking, um, or the champions, the anti-trafficking work that's going on at the federal and state level. so in alaska last year the fbi gave covenant house its community partner award for the work that we're doing to identify victims of sex trafficking and to work on the prosecution of those who traffic kids. in pennsylvania several weeks ago, um, covenant house in philadelphia led a coalition that successfully championed new safe harbor legislation that helps victims of sex trafficking. and that would be true throughout the united states, and, of course, in latin america where covenant house works in mexico, nicaragua, guatemala and in honduras, we work very directly including we
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co-prosecute some of those cases against the gangs and cartels who are trafficking kids who are as young as 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years old. the work that we do to help victims recover depends on where that victim is in terms of their exploitation, their suffering. but it almost always involves, um, psychiatric counseling, helping young people begin to deal with rape and exploitation and then help them build a plan forward that's not very different that the work that we were doig, you know, 30 years ago when kids -- we call it trafficking now, but it's been going on for a long time. kids have been getting bought and sold in this country for a long time, and we've been helping kids move from exploitation to hope and opportunity. >> another thing we've been advocating for is for the police forces to be better educated as to when somebody's actually a victim of trafficking and when someone's this on their own volition. so if they determine that someone's been underage or coerced into trafficking, we're
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urging that police agencies will learn what that looks like and get those kids into services. >> yes, sir. >> is reunification ever or a goal? >> the question is, is reunification ever a goal, and every opportunity, um, that exists for safe reunification and is in a kid's interest, um, it gets explored, right? because we want wherever possible young people to have a family. and if their family is safe and they can be reconnected to their family, we want to be a part of helping that to happen. just as is the case for younger children in the public child welfare system. i have to tell you that the vast majority of people who are coming into covenant house not just in new york city, but across the united states to not have families who are interested in or can be safely reconnected to them. but that's not true for every young person, and whenever it's possible we work hard to build family going forward, to help that young people find a group of folks who are going to love
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them. we talk a lot about, you know, the first job, we talk about the first apartment, we talk about the fact that, you know, kids need to finish their education. but the one thing that a young person needs more than anything else is an adult who unconditionally loves them and commits to them and won't let go of them. it's what made a difference in my life. and the thing that i think you'll see in "almost home" that made a difference in these kids' lives is people stepped up to be that person. the cook in new orleans. as tina often says, it's often not the executive director or, you know, the president or the director of the charity, but it's, you know, the janitor or the cook or the mentor who come into the shelter who just decides i'm not letting go of this kid, and i'm going to help this can kid get across that bridge. maybe two more questions, and then we're going to, um, conclude. if there are any more. yes. >> [inaudible] >> hi. >> thank you for being here, for the work that you do. my question, actually, we've heard about other ways that
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adults can help, but are there different avenues that youth can help, the ohmless youth? i went to st. francis academy in newark, and there are high schools that have mentoring programs or perhaps like volunteer programs where, of course, it may be precarious to have them working with the youth that covenant house works with, but are there different avenues that can be opened up so that youth can work, um, with the ohmless? >> right. homeless. >> i know that for the holiday cans we often have young people come in for parties. we can have them do cookie decorating or pumpkin carving, things that young people in the shelters have never had. and at first it appears very childish, but they haven't had those experiences, and can they love it. i used to go down to the shelter and paint people's nails. something that simple, that act of caring that made them feel valued and made them realize that people outside of the shelter system care for them.
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i don't know about being a full-time volunteer, if there are age limits on that -- >> i think in many covenant houses there are age limits, but there are really cool things going on across the country at colleges and high schools across z the united states in the last several weeks. young people have been sleeping tout raise awareness about the crisis of youth homelessness and ask friends and family to help raise money to help support not just covenant house, but other charities that are working with homeless young people. there are also people who are going in and organizing clothing rooms. there's a couple ways you can do a clothing way at a shelter, right? you can just throw the clothes in a pile, or you can recognize that this is a sacred moment to get a kid to feel special, and you can organize it like a boutique, and you can make it feel like a really special opportunity even though this young person has not another thing to wear, and this is a sad moment for them. people who come into our covenant houses, including a team who's doing this tonight in anchorage, are planning ways to
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make that experience of going into a clothing room and finding a pair of jeanses or t-shirt or coat for the winter and turn that into something really spcial. and young people do that, often high school students will do that, come in and clean the clothes, hang the clothes. covenant house will touch 56,000 homeless young people in six countries. there will be, tonight, 2,000 kids sleeping under a covenant house roof. and we are part of a place where they're trying to get love in the world. there's room for all of us to get involved. last question? >> how can we get involved as adults like here in new york city? how can we help you? >> so the question is, and i promise you i didn't plant this question, but thank you so much for asking this question. [laughter] how can you help us at cough plant house? first, let me just say there are fabulous nonprofits in new york city doing great work with
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homeless young people. at covenant house, which is at 41st and 10th, and then we have a program for homeless teen moms on 52nd and 9th, and tonight 350 homeless young people will be sleeping. we have a need for hundreds of volunteers, and we have here tonight my friend ashley who's in the back of the room, she's waving to you all do -- does everybody see ashley? okay, now, that was planted. if anybody's interested in finding out more about covenant house and volunteering, it could be in big and small ways, ashley will be happy to provide you with more or information. think about this, right? i mean, there's an opportunity ear for all of us to do something, and maybe it's not inside covenant house, though i hope for many of you it will be. maybe you'll find a way in your neighborhood or in your community to reach out to that kid where something seems not quite right. just reach tout that young person -- out to that young person. it could make a huge difference in their lives.
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i'm confidence, and there's a huge, huge role for the government to may here. there's also a huge role for us to play here, and i'm confident that if we altogether get in this in a robust way and in ways corey was talking about, that, you know, this book which is about six extraordinary people who help six extraordinary kids across the bridge can get replicated. any last thoughts? >> no. i just would welcome anyone in to participate in that work. we need tutors, we need job trainers, we need people who help with resumÉs, we need people just to do small things and big things as well. so i hope you read chapter 8 which is all about what you can do to help after you've read these stories and join in the movement. >> thank you all so much. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> you've been watching book,